Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Criticism of neoconservatism

Also good notes on libertarianism v. neoconservatism
original source unknown (probable Wikipedia.org)

Jacobinism, Bolshevism
The "traditional" conservative Claes G. Ryn has argued that neoconservatives are "a variety of neo-Jacobins." Ryn maintains that true conservatives deny the existence of a universal political and economic philosophy and model that is suitable for all societies and cultures, and believe that a society's institutions should be adjusted to suit its culture, while Neo-Jacobins
are attached in the end to ahistorical, supranational principles that they believe should supplant the traditions of particular societies. The new Jacobins see themselves as on the side of right and fighting evil and are not prone to respecting or looking for common ground with countries that do not share their democratic preferences. (Ryn 2003: 387)
Further examining the relationship between Neoconservatism and moral rhetoric, Ryn argues that
Neo-Jacobinism regards America as founded on universal principles and assigns to the United States the role of supervising the remaking of the world. Its adherents have the intense dogmatic commitment of true believers and are highly prone to moralistic rhetoric. They demand, among other things, "moral clarity" in dealing with regimes that stand in the way of America's universal purpose. They see themselves as champions of "virtue." (p. 384).
Thus, according to Ryn, neoconservatism is analogous to Bolshevism: in the same way that the Bolsheviks wanted to destroy established ways of life throughout the world to replace them with communism, the neoconservatives want to do the same, only imposing free-market capitalism and American-style liberal democracy instead of socialism.
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, had the following to say in a December, 2005 interview with the German weekly Der Spiegel: "They are not new conservatives. They're Jacobins. Their predecessor is French Revolution leader Maximilien Robespierre." [19]

Conflict with Libertarian Conservatives
There is also conflict between neoconservatives and libertarian conservatives. Libertarian conservatives are ideologically opposed to government programs and regard neoconservative foreign policy ambitions with outspoken distrust. Rep Ron Paul, a Republican libertarian who holds a Texas district, has spoken out harshly against the Bush Administration's foreign wars on both a fiscal point and as a moral point on non-intervention.

Disagreement with Business Lobby, fiscal conservatives
There has been considerable conflict between neoconservatives and business conservatives in some areas. Neoconservatives tend to see China as a looming threat to the United States and argue for harsh policies to contain that threat. Business conservatives see China as a business opportunity and see a tough policy against China as opposed to their desires for trade. Business conservatives also appear much less distrustful of international institutions. In fact, where China is concerned neoconservatives tend to find themselves more often in agreement with liberal Democrats than with business conservatives. Indeed, Americans for Democratic Action - widely regarded as an "authority" of sorts on liberalism by both the American left and right alike - credit Senators and members of the House of Representatives with casting a "liberal" vote if they oppose legislation that would treat China favourably in the realm of foreign trade and many other matters.

Friction with paleoconservatism
Main article: Neoconservative - Paleoconservative Conflict
Disputes over Israel and public policy contributed to a sharp conflict with "paleoconservatives," starting in the 1980s. The movement's name ("old conservative") was taken as a rebuke to the "neo" side. The "paleocons" view the neoconservatives as "militarist social democrats" and interlopers who deviate from traditional conservatism agenda on issues as diverse as federalism, immigration, foreign policy, the welfare state, and in some cases abortion, feminism and homosexuality. All of this leads to a debate over what counts as conservatism.[citation needed]
The paleoconservatives argue that neoconservatives (and Straussians) are an illegitimate addition to the conservative movement. Pat Buchanan calls neoconservatism "a globalist, interventionist, open borders ideology."[20] The open rift is often traced back to a 1981 dispute over Ronald Reagan's nomination of Mel Bradford, a Southerner, to run the National Endowment for the Humanities. Bradford withdrew after neoconservatives complained that he had criticized Abraham Lincoln; the paleoconservatives supported Bradford.
Besides Buchanan and Bradford, the most prominent paleoconservatives include Paul Craig Roberts, Paul Gottfried, Thomas Fleming, Chilton Williamson, Joseph Sobran, and Clyde N. Wilson. The two leading paleoconservative publications are Chronicles and The American Conservative, which Buchanan helped create. In addition, paleolibertarianism is a parallel movement that stresses free market economics;

Neoconservatism, American Jews, and "Dual Loyalty"
Some opponents of neoconservatives have sought to emphasize their interest in Israel and the relatively large proportion of Jewish neoconservatives, and have raised the question of "dual loyalty". A number of critics, such as Pat Buchanan, Juan Cole, and Kathleen and Bill Christison have accused them of putting Israeli interests above those of America[21]. In turn these critics have been labeled as anti-Semites by prominent Jewish organizations.[22]
David Duke and some other white nationalists attack neoconservatism as advancing Jewish interests. They say a "Jewish supremacist" movement exists in the United States[23]. Similarly, during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the politically left-wing magazine AdBusters published a list of the "50 most influential neocons in the United States", noting that half of these were Jewish,[24] and insinuating that the preponderance of Jews in neoconservatism leads them to "not distinguish enough between American and Israeli interests". The article asks "For example, whose interests were they protecting in pushing for war in Iraq?", and ends with the statement "And half of the them are Jewish."
Political commentators like those in the AdBusters article state that their criticism is not aimed towards the political views of American Jewry as a whole, but rather that the commentary is specifically about neoconservative Jews and their apparent success in steering American Mideast policy in a pro-Israeli direction (at times to the detriment of American interests) [25] [26].
Neoconservatives say that they were much less interested in Israel before the June 1967 Six Day War. It was only after this conflict, which raised the specter of unopposed Soviet influence in the Middle East, that the neoconservatives became interested in Israel's security interests. They promote the view that Israel is the United States' strongest ally in the Middle East as the sole Western-style democracy in the region, aside from Turkey.
Commenting on the alleged overtones of this view in more mainstream discourse, David Brooks, in his January 6, 2004 New York Times column wrote, "To hear these people describe it, PNAC is sort of a Yiddish Trilateral Commission, the nexus of the sprawling neocon tentacles". In a similar vein, Michael Lind, a self-described 'former neoconservative,' wrote in 2004, "It is true, and unfortunate, that some journalists tend to use 'neoconservative' to refer only to Jewish neoconservatives, a practice that forces them to invent categories like nationalist conservative or Western conservative for Rumsfeld and Cheney. But neoconservatism is an ideology, like paleoconservatism and libertarianism, and Rumsfeld and Dick and Lynne Cheney are full-fledged neocons, as distinct from paleocons or libertarians, even though they are not Jewish and were never liberals or leftists."[11]
Lind argues that, while "there were, and are, very few Northeastern WASP mandarins in the neoconservative movement", its origins are not specifically Jewish. "...[N]eoconservatism recruited from diverse 'farm teams' including Roman Catholics (William Bennett and Michael Novak) and populists, socialists and New Deal liberals in the South and Southwest (the pool from which Jeane Kirkpatrick, James Woolsey and I [that is, Lind himself] were drawn)".[11]

Related publications and institutions

American Enterprise Institute
Bradley Foundation
Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Henry Jackson Society
Hudson Institute
Project for the New American Century

Weekly Standard
Political magazines featuring neoconservative ideas:
Front Page Magazine
The National Interest
National Review
Policy Review
The Public Interest

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